Year Three Week Two – The Plan’s First Trial
“No plan survives contact with the enemy,” Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, German Field Marshal
I think I scared myself last week when posited the difficulty of teaching a single subject across six grade levels much less five subject areas across said six grade levels. Oops. I feel like Year One had been somewhat torpedoed because I got on campus days before my students and had to learn the new 3D-Virtual Reality computer system and my new school/school district as I was going along. Year Two, I still didn’t give myself enough time to get systems up and running before the school year began, and ran into unexpected problems getting students onto the district’s chosen LMS (learning management system), Canvas. I didn’t travel this past summer, so I was hoping to not repeat last year’s errors.
The beginning of this school year, I was much more aggressive getting student LMS accounts going, but wasn’t given access to my classes (to build the content) until two days ago. That’s a bit of a problem. No worries, week one was about classroom rules and getting students used to logging into the LMS (even if there wasn’t any content for them to use… yet). Week two I decided to have them play a quiz-game based on the rules we’d talked about last week, then practice their LMS login again. Kindergarten and first grade we did the quiz presentation-style with questions on the projector and everyone answering as a group. Then I’d have them play math games on their computers/iPads while I called them up one at a time to practice the LMS login. Second through fifth grades did the quiz as individuals at their computers/iPads. I required that third through fifth grades had to get at least eight out of ten correct or they’d have to repeat the quiz. After the quiz they ran through another LMS login practice then they’d get “free time” to play games on the computers/iPads, LEGOs or Jenga.
I was surprised that I had a lot of second graders complain that they couldn’t read, so they couldn’t do the quiz as individuals. One reason the zSpace 3D-VR curriculum didn’t really work in prior years was because the lessons were dependent on students reading prompts and pretty much all of my students were low in their reading proficiency. I assumed low reading with K & first grade, that’s why we did this activity as a whole class, but somehow that escaped me when I assumed the second graders would be able to do it individually. So, after the first second grade class complained, I made it clear that it was okay for them to work with their neighbors with difficult words and after the quiz we talked about reading strategies.
Here’s a link to the game… see how many of the answers you can guess:
Besides reading levels, there are some fundamental learning differences between early learners and later elementary learners that I wanted to explore. At the end of week one, when I was talking to one of my first grade colleagues and discovered that all science curriculum had been given to the librarian to do, we talked about social studies and the plan for primary grades and all the grade levels jumped out at me:
- K-1: My Community – maps – community development
- 2-3: My Business/Career – communication/storytelling
- 4-5: My World – Programming/Robotics
One of my professors this past summer said that primary students benefit more with exploration driven learning, whereas later elementary learners (third grade and beyond) work better with more guided apprentice-type learning. This week I learned that, even if thematically second is working on the same material as third grade, I should accommodate for lower literacy levels at least for the first couple of months of second grade. I can make that adjustment. Also, I do not have to launch all of these themes across all of the grade levels on the same week, but I can stagger their roll-out so that bugs can be worked out with the more capable students first.
Week two is done. Thirty-five more to go.
Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, https://en.m.wikiquote.org/wiki/Helmuth_von_Moltke_the_Elder, retrieved 2018-08-25